One of the best fights of the season just went down between Brad Katona and Timur Valiev, so let's recap all the events during the full episode of The Ultimate Fighter Season 31: Team McGregor vs. Team Chandler.
The beginning of episode starts with a brief but agreeable conversation between semi-finalist Brad Katona and coach Michael Chandler. After being offered to switch teams last episode, Katona snapped at the opportunity to join his actual coaches and told Chandler he'd be making the switch, which Chandler held no objections to.
At the end of Timur Valiev's training, Islam Makhachev visited his fellow Russian friend. Valiev was ecstatic because it was his first time speaking Russian in over five weeks. Valiev discussed his coaches and praised them highly, and Makhachev gave his friend a huge confidence boost heading into his semi-final matchup.
At the weigh-ins, Timur Valiev weighed in at the Bantamweight limit of 136 lbs, and Brad Katona came in half a pound under that at 135.5 lbs. After an intense face-off, the two backed away.
Result: Brad Katona def. Timur Valiev via split decision.
Division: Bantamweight (135 lbs)
Referee: Keith Peterson
The first round involved both fighters finding their range. Katona frequently landed with the lead hook, which stunned Valiev several times. It's difficult to tell how, but Katona suffered a brutal cut on the side of his head a minute into the round, either from a knee or headbutt. The knee forced Katona to attempt a takedown, which he secured but was briefly threatened by a guillotine. Valiev scrambled out from underneath after losing the submission and landed a head kick that landed flush with the foot. With a minute to go, Valiev caught a kick and used it to take Katona down, who threatened a triangle choke. After a scramble, Katona got back to his feet with Valiev hanging off his back, and after some strikes and a slam takedown, the round ended.
Between rounds, Team Chandler and Team McGregor agreed Valiev won the first round, which they told their fighters.
The second round was just as active, with Valiev constantly pumping out body kicks and knees, and Katona kept pressing forward with his lead hand, which Valiev couldn't escape. After Valiev landed a knee in the clinch, Katona landed a bomb of a left hand off the break, which was acknowledged. Valiev began to succeed more in striking exchanges, catching Katona as he was getting off with his boxing. With a minute to go, Katona pushed Valiev against the fence, but in the final seconds, was reversed and thrown to the mat by Valiev, who ended the round on top.
For the first half of the third round, Valiev comfortably picked Katona apart with leg kicks and jabs, which he landed frequently. Katona stunned Valiev with a straight as he attempted to enter the pocket, but Valiev clapped back with his shots after chopping the leg. Valiev secured a takedown halfway through the round, but Katona returned to the feet. In the final minute, Katona pushed Valiev against the fence and landed some punches to the body and head. After a final flurry from both men, the round ended.
With Brad Katona advancing to the finals, he will face Cody Gibson or Rico DiSciullo in the finals.
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